Thursday, September 08, 2005

Okay Then, I've Been Memed

Well, I've been memed good and proper and in a moment will take up the challenge.

I first came across the term "meme" in Richard Dawkins The Selfish Gene
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which is one of those books which turns the world upside down, and you oughta read if you haven't already. Anyway, here's a defintion by a memeticist. (Goodness, never knew such folks existed!)

I guess this pass-on-pass-on thing could just about qualify as a meme.

Anyway ...

20 years ago - 1985

I was living in Kuala Kangsar, Perak and teaching English at Malay College Kuala Kangsar. My students were really bright, enthusiastic and I loved the job. (I have to say this because some of them have recently discovered this blog and drop by to see how their old cikgu is doing!)

I've already told you about a couple of the more colourful characters who came into my life at this point in time" Syed and Macik Kantin, and there are quite a few more tales to tell of those KK days.

I rented the upper story of a "semi-d" along Jalan College from a Chinese family and lived with a cat I'd acquired from the school canteen called Belang, because she was stripey. My mode of transport was my trusty bike - a made-in-China Flying Pigeon which took me on cycle rides through the picturesque royal town. I felt a great affinity for Anthony Burgess who had also lived here and who was completely forgotten by the townsfolk apart from Syed. (I actually chose KK because I loved The Malayan Trilogy so much - how mad is that?)
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I made local friends and had British colleagues in the school, but overall was pretty lonely. (I kept putting myself into exile for some reason when I should have been in mad party mode.) I spent my time reading voraciously and packets of books arrived regularly by post from Britain. Spent my weekends in Penang, travelling up there by train.

10 years ago - 1995

I was teaching in Maktab Peguruan Ilmu Khas (Specialist Teachers College)in Bandar Tun Razak on a B.Ed Twinning programme and representing Exeter University. I lectured in Language Awareness and Methodology that year, I think.

I had a great set of colleagues and we were a real gang. Never stopped laughing but worked superbly as a team. I miss our extended breakfasts when we would sneak out to enjoy all the gourmet delights of Cheras foodstalls and makan shops.

This was also the year I passed my driving test, I think. My instructor, Mr. Andy had taught tank drivers in the army, so my antics didn't scare him too much, and he gave me the confidence to pass my test. (Another story!)

This might have been the year of the fertility treatment. Scans and examinations, pokings, proddings and pills and more sadness than I can bear to think about. As always I drowned my sorrows with books. A great book that stops you thinking about your life is Darwin's Dangerous Idea by Daniel Dennett. It uses up a lot of brain cells and makes you feel pretty tiny in the unversal scheme of things.
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5 years ago 2000

Enjoyed 1st January 2000 when you could roll your eyes at anything anyone said and reply "My god, that is just so last millenium" with precisely the right tone of derision. The other lovely thing on that day was that there was no bad news on the TV whatsoever - and for just a little while you could believe that the world was going to be a better place. As if!

A hard year for me. My mum recently passed away and was a "mid-life orphan" - which took some effort to get my head round, despite or perhaps because of, a difficult relationship down the years. Still teaching at MPIK.

We were now living in the house we'd built ourselves (garden wonderful, house too big and overwhelming for just two of us.)

I turned 45 and decided the only response to growing older was to do so with attitude. Joined a gym. Bought high heels and red lipstick.

I had begun to write.

3 years ago 2002

At work stressed out and unbelievably busy. Always seemed to have piles of exam and assignment marking to bring home at weekends. Supervising teaching practice and out in schools most of the day for weeks on end, until I feel I know every inch of the city and every school canteen. Had the great satisfaction of watching my students improve from one lesson to the next, knowing that my feedback was making a difference. Found myself doing a lot of counselling to push problem students through. My contract ended mid-July.

Writing hungrily, filling notebook after notebook. My story Just Like Steven Spielberg published in The Edge. Also writing my 'agony aunty for the English language column' in the The Star.

Read The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron - a book which changed my life because it made me reassess what I really wanted in life. I'm still trying to answer those questions and some of them are not easy.

A year ago

My contract had come to an end and I was looking around for what to do next. Job offers fell through. I needed to work for my own sanity! Mr. Raman came to my rescue with the KL Litfest - four months of mad preparation and then the event itself which went past in a big blur and left me exhausted ... but longing for more. I hit a period of very deep depression compounded by a number of factors and a toxic person or two. Thank goodness for the friends who were there when I needed them, a phone call away. By the end of the year had my plan for ways to move forward ...

This Year

Has been brilliant! Once I started moving in the right direction, had the courage to take the first step, the opportunities didn't stop flooding in. I got my company up and running and have my "portfolio career" teaching, writing and consultancy. I do the things that interest me and I'm lucky enough to get paid for them. If I'd known how good it felt to work freelance, I'd have taken the step long ago.

Next year

Will be even better! I have plans for more courses and more events I want to organise. But scared I'll jinx them if I say too much. I must be much more organised though. (Next New Year's resolution.)

Ten years time

Plan to grow into a dotty old lady. Eccentricity is the only way to go! Hope to have a couple of books published and a PhD. Hope to be happy and surrounded by folks I love and lots of cats and books.

Okay lah - now I pass the meme on to all of you who haven't done it yet!


XMOCHA! said...

wow, Sharon, than you for this- I got to know you a little better today :-)

Lydia Teh said...


What an informed life you lead. Hehe, and you've taken the meme a bit further ya, going one year, 10 years into the future. I didn't think that far.

Anonymous said...

interesting meme. when written in parts, it's easier to see the changes. you lead a colourful life :)

Kak Teh said...

Sharon, yes, we know more about you now and a very interestng life indeed. But there are certain bits which I swear are mirror images of what I go through here - you in my native land, me in yours!

Anonymous said...

what a wonderful life! here's to more!

=] said...

Hmm.. really interesting.. I shall try this out later.. But I doubt if my life can be made this interesting when put in words..

bibliobibuli said...

ahah - now you know something more, but not everything of course ...

I should have gone back further in time ... 30 years ago ... 40 years ago ... now I'm old enough to be a nenek there's plenty to write about!

slowmover said...

Cikgu, I still remember you 20 years ago riding the "penoreh getah" bike in your long green skirt and white blouse. I think that was your pakaian rasmi back then.

Nazrah Leopolis said...

i really appreciate a lil peek into your past, present and future.u've obviously lived well

bibliobibuli said...

slowmover - "penoreh getah" bike. I thought it the height of sophistication!

nazrah - thanks. There's a lot more of it to write about too.